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20080914

open Theme Hospital - 3 different ones

Entry 972 posted in: 3. Gamebits


No vomiting in the corridors please! Anybody who has read this blog knows that I am a fan of Transport Tycoon Deluxe and that since more than a decade ago. It is probably the best game in the world and thanks to the Open TTD project the game is doubtless more popular than ever. Open TTD used reverse engineering to recreate the DOS game from scratch and to export it to other platforms, including those that are not Microsoft friendly. Since a couple of years aficionados are busy finding ways to replace the original 8bpp graphics with newly created 32bpp ones. This is not only done because the game will look more modern that way but also because the old graphics are, in theory at least, copyrighted by the initial creator of the game Chris Sawyer.

Slowly the game is evolving into something new but a bit too slow if you ask me. It is a pity that nobody thought of creating a slick utility to create your own vehicles or buildings for the game. There isn’t even an Idiots Guide how the coding of the graphic objects works, so it is quite difficult to find new recruits. Volunteers first have to struggle through old forum posts from a different version of the game (the so-called TTDL patch) and need to muddle through a swamp of page-long threads from there. Some links providing must-read help files or dos-utilities (to unpack tiled graphics and reveal the code behind it) no longer exist, so all you can do is to waddle a few days more through old forum posts hoping somebody has revealed the answer to your question. Do I sound a bit depressed here? Yes, but you can blame that on the season.

But there is now finally a realistic chance that another remake from the last century will try to push Transport Tycoon from its spot. I’m of course talking of Theme Hospital.

Somewhere in 2006 it was announced on Sourceforge that an Open Source 3D version of the game was going to be made: Open Source Theme Hospital Clone Announced.

About a year later the TH community was thrilled to see a commercial follow-up appearing on the game market: Hospital Tycoon. The game was a dud and for one reason or another the makers released what could be best described as a buggy beta version. You can now buy Hospital Tycoon at 5 Euro a piece in warehouses around the world. But even at that price it isn’t particulary a good buy: Theme Hospital Tycoon.

Time for a new venture. Round Donut launched a website, a forum and the promise to release an open source 3D version of open theme hospital very soon. That was in 2007 as well: Donuts and doctors.

As you have probably figured out by now Round Donut couldn’t keep its promise and all the website can offer to download today is a tacky logo of the soon-to-be-released game. Some developers found work or had to devote more time to their studies or needed to babysit their grandmother on Wednesday afternoons, whatever the reason is, the first line of coding for the second open source project still has to written. (If you read this, guys, no hard feelings, I know you’ve tried, it just didn’t work out,…)

By pure frustration I started to browse the web and found a blog entry from Alexander Gitter who had used reverse engineering on the original files, just to see if he could recreate the original graphics: Much Ado (the sequel).

Now its about time for a bit of narcissism: I mailed the bloke, put his blog entry on the Round Donut forum and let the virus spread. Out of it grew a new project, the third if my count is exact that will now try to reverse the game to the 22nd century à façon de Open Transport Tycoon. It's name: openTH. The fact that a third project was founded brought some life back into the second and perhaps we will see two versions of an open source version of Theme Hospital in the future.

But hold it for a minute. Let us all sit down for a while and recapitulate. So a third Open Theme Hospital was founded because the second was virtually dead, right?
Right.
But because the third project started this gave the comatose second Open Theme Hospital at Round Donut a new boost to start all over again, right?
Right.
So now we have two Open Theme Hospital projects running at the same time, right?
Wrong
.
We have three.

OpenTH wasn’t running for a week when somebody came up with yet another openTH clone project. Named openTH, to add confusion to the previous one that bares exactly the same name, it can (also) be found at Sourceforge. And of course it also has its own forum.

As there is now a busload of would-be programmers around the good news is that discrete negotiations are being held to join forces and to merge into one big project. To be continued...


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Tycooning